Someone Dies In This Elevator is a spoiler-driven anthology podcast. We hope you enjoy this episode. In The Cop, The Clerk, and The Body, they call it a speakeasy, but some things are too hard to say.
Click here to listen to a mono version.
This episode contains alcohol, Homophobia, mistreatment of a corpse, Transphobia, police corruption, violence, and death in an elevator.
Please sign up for our Newsletter for Release Info and Elevator Microfiction.
Follow us @SDITEpod on: Facebook! Instagram! Reddit! Tiktok! Tumblr! Twitter!
Sean Howard (he/him) as Frank.
Ezra J. Wayne (he/him) as Tommy.
Michelle Kelly (she/her) as Eleanor.
Rashika Rao (she/her) as Maryanne.
Chris Magilton (he/him) as Bill.
Scottye Moore (they/them) as Philp.
Jessica Crimes (she/her) as Archie.
Sierra Doss (she/her) as Marge.
Sean Lenhart (he/him) as The Cop.
Kristen DiMercurio (she/her) as Voice From The Back.
Brad Colbroock (they/them/he) as Employee.
Written by Evan Tess Murray (he/they)
Directed by Tal Minear (they/them).
Script Editing by Jesse Schuschu (he/him).
Dialogue Editing, Sound Design, and Mastering by Brad Colbroock (they/them/he).
Music by Trace Callahan (they/she).
Executive Produced by Colin J Kelly (he/him) and Tal Minear (they/them).
Artwork by Tal Minear (they/them).
Marketing by Ali Fuller (they/them)
Someone Dies In This Elevator Series Trailer is their Collective Work under Sound Escape Productions, a profit-sharing podcast collective.
Please support Audio Fiction Creators so they can continue making content and telling stories.
Transcript for The Cop, The Clerk and the Body as follows:
(We are in a fancy hotel in 1923. We can hear someone playing jazz and, distantly, the clink of glasses. The elevator is on the lower level, which is where the lobby and bar are. The elevator has a folding cage across the front and a lever to pull. Even when the cage door is closed we can hear the floors we pass, barely muffled if at all. Our point of view is the elevator operator, who is inside the elevator, ready to operate the door and lever. His name is Frank. There is someone else in the elevator with Frank as the scene opens. They don’t matter. FRANK opens the cage door.)
FRANK: There you are, sir, enjoy your evening… (FRANK clears his throat)
(FRANK holds out his hand for a tip. The nameless, unimportant gentleman walks away. He does not tip FRANK. This makes the sound of not handing someone a tip, which is hard to put in audio. We do hear his expensive shoes on the marble.)
FRANK: Well. Yeah…’thank you very much, Frank!’ ‘Oh, no, thank YOU, sir’, I’m sure.
(The desk clerk, TOMMY, calls over from the desk. Over the next bit of conversation, we hear him come out from behind the desk and come toward FRANK. He might play with a pen, tap a finger, or ring the desk bell; he’s a fidgety young man, and audibly a bit nervous.)
TOMMY: (calls over from the desk) Hey there Frank. Slow night?
(FRANK steps out of the elevator, toward him, so they can have a companionable conversation.)
FRANK: Tommy, you know it. Busy downstairs, though?
TOMMY: Not busy enough for me – this crowd doesn’t believe in a good old-fashioned gratuity.
FRANK: Old fashioned? It seems pretty new-fangled to me.
TOMMY: Well I’m young, everything is old. I noticed.
FRANK: Yeah, including me, huh? But you know, you get as old as me, you’ll see – nothing really changes. Even when it does, strangely enough.
TOMMY: So – how have you been? I haven’t seen you in a bit.
FRANK: Oh, just under the weather, right as rain now and glad to be back working, you know?
TOMMY: The fellow they got in to cover for you – I don’t think he’d ever even seen an elevator. (They chuckle)
FRANK: (They chuckle) They don’t make ’em like this anymore. I heard there was a big to-do tonight – and let me tell you, I’ve got rent to pay. I heard there was a big to-do tonight – and I have rent to pay. Time and tide wait for no man.
TOMMY: I hear you there, keeps me behind this desk.
(A companionable pause, broken by TOMMY fidgeting – perhaps drumming his hands on the desk.)
TOMMY: So – since it’s quiet – I was just wondering, when you get off tonight-
VOICE FROM THE BACK: Tommy? Could use you back here!
TOMMY: (CALLING BACK) Coming! (to Frank) Catch you later?
FRANK: Sure, of course, you know where to find me. Yeah. Yeah, I’ll be – you know where to find me. Always – yeah. Here at the elevator.
(TOMMY exits at a quick pace, toward a back room; we hear a crash and some muffled cursing. FRANK returns to the elevator. For a little bit, we hear music, glasses, distant conversation. FRANK fidgets, scuffs a foot, scratches his head, and cranks the door partly closed then back open, thinking he heard something.)
FRANK: Hello? Tommy – is that you?
(FRANK suddenly starts coughing, sharp and shallow coughs like he can’t quite catch his breath.)
FRANK: Oh – no – help –
(FRANK’s coughs become one long harsh indrawn breath, which he never lets out. As he is dying in the elevator, we hear a buzz-ring sound of the mechanical bell as Eleanor calls the elevator. We hear him crumple to the floor, dead of a heart attack. He hits the lever on the way down and the elevator begins to ascend. We hear the ground floor (front desk, door to the street), mezzanine (different, less fancy jazz music), and first residential floor. Three people are standing in front of the elevator. ELEANOR is very well-dressed, perhaps 45 years old. She is accompanied by her husband BILL and their young adult daughter MARYANNE, both of whom generally do whatever she says.)
ELEANOR: Oh, good, the elevator has arrived.
MARYANNE: The door isn’t open.
ELEANOR: Bill, open the door.
(BILL pulls open the door, slowly.)
BILL: …oh. Oh dear.
ELEANOR: What is it, dearest?
MARYANNE: Oh my god! Mother, this man is… I think this man is dead?
ELEANOR: Oh, nonsense, I’m sure he’s just drunk.
(BILL prods Frank’s body.)
BILL: I think he’s passed on, actually.
MARYANNE: There is a DEAD MAN in this elevator! (MARYANNE begins to panic.)
ELEANOR: Oh, shush, Maryanne, you didn’t even know him.
MARYANNE: MOTHER he is DEAD.
ELEANOR: Yes, and it’s very inconvenient. Is there still room for all of us?
MARYANNE: How can you –
BILL: I think so, if I just nudge his legs –
(BILL moves Frank’s legs over and everyone gets in the elevator. There is a strange pause as everyone stares at the lever.)
MARYANNE: I cannot believe I am standing beside a dead man.
ELEANOR: I cannot believe you’re so obsessed with him.
BILL: What is it the chap generally does to make the elevator…
ELEANOR: It’s that lever. We want the lower level.
MARYANNE: You are bloodless and I can’t believe I’m related to you.
ELEANOR: Sometimes I’m astounded myself. Bill, please pull the lever.
BILL: You’re closer.
(BILL closes the door and laboriously pulls the lever, after untangling Frank from it. We hear the mezzanine and lobby again, then the lower level. BILL hauls the cage door open.)
MARYANNE: Shouldn’t we at least tell someone?
ELEANOR: Oh, I’m sure they’ll find him soon enough.
BILL: I feel odd not tipping him.
ELEANOR: Well, there’s not much point.
BILL: You’re right, of course, dear.
ELEANOR: (imperiously) Come along, both of you, it’s time for us to be introduced.
(The women sweep out of the elevator. BILL follows, readjusting Frank on his way out and dropping a couple of quarters beside him. We hear them clink.)
BILL: There you go now, fella.
(We hear them walk away toward the ballroom. We hear ballroom doors open – there are people on the other side – and then close again. We remain in the elevator with Frank. We will not be leaving the elevator unless Frank does, and Frank, as you may recall, has died. We continue to hear jazz. The ballroom doors open again and we hear people exiting. It is a pair of deep voices. They are bickering as they walk toward the elevator. They have had, let us say, several drinks.)
PHILIP: I can’t believe you left them in the room.
ARCHIE: I can’t believe you didn’t remind me.
PHILIP: Where do they get off calling that gin?
ARCHIE: We’re here every weekend and somehow you’re always surprised.
(They reach the elevator.)
PHILIP: Archibald, my man, do you see a problem here?
ARCHIE: If I had to hazard a guess, Philip, I would say that this elevator is lacking something.
PHILIP: The fellow who greets us and pulls the lever –
ARCHIE: -well, old boy, he seems to be late.
PHILIP: Very late indeed. Well, at least the door is open.
(They get in the elevator. PHILIP tries to close the door.)
PHILIP: Door seems a bit stuck.
ARCHIE: Let me try.
(The door rattles but is stuck.)
PHILIP: What’s it stuck on?
ARCHIE: Oh. His foot. It’s gone and gotten wedged.
PHILIP: You move it, I’ll get the door –
(They do this. The door finally closes.)
ARCHIE: Were we on three?
PHILIP: You don’t remember?
ARCHIE: You’re the one with the habit of forgetting things.
PHILIP: Oh, come off it, Archie.
(Brief pause, then PHILIP pulls the lever. The elevator rises past the lobby, mezzanine, first floor, second floor, and stops on the third floor. While it’s moving, they’re talking.)
ARCHIE: You’re right, Pip. Sorry. I went a bit hard there.
PHILIP: No harm done. We’ll just pop in and back down.
(Pause while we move another floor.)
ARCHIE: Do you suppose we should be… oh I don’t know…
ARCHIE: Doing something about this sack of flesh beneath us?
PHILIP: I think he’s a bit far gone for bathtub gin to help.
(We reach their floor. ARCHIE pulls the door open. They step over Frank and walk away, still talking.)
PHILIP: Well done, Archibald.
ARCHIE: Do they really make it in bathtubs?
PHILIP: How do you imagine I would know?
ARCHIE: It just seems unhygienic.
(This floor is very quiet. We hear a door slam far away. There are no footsteps, because the hallway is carpeted. A clock ticks. We hear a rolling cart squeak toward us. Marge has been delivering room service.)
MARGE: Frank? Why do you have the elevator sitting on three?
(Frank fails to answer.)
MARGE: Frank? (beat) Well, since you’re here I’ll ride down with you instead of taking the cargo elevator, it smells like last week’s ham sandwi-
(MARGE notices that Frank is on the floor)
MARGE: Oh buddy. One ham sandwich too many, huh?
(MARGE steps into the elevator, sighs, and sits on the floor beside Frank, a process which involves some groaning.)
MARGE: Mind if I light one up, then?
(Frank is still not answering.)
MARGE: Thanks. You know, I always liked you.
(MARGE lights her cigarette. She picks up the quarters.)
MARGE: What, you were holding your last tip when the end of days caught up with you? Or is it that one of these assholes didn’t notice you were among the dearly departed?
(MARGE inhales, then blows out smoke.)
MARGE: I’d bet these two bits that’s it. Well. You don’t need ’em anymore, so, thanks very much.
(She slips the quarters into her apron pocket and takes another drag of her cigarette.)
MARGE: Guess I should probably head down in the cargo elevator. It smells awful but it’s just the ghosts of sandwiches long past, not… elevator operators. (beat) Not that you’re bad company, Frank. Restful, really.
(MARGE gets up. She puts out her cigarette on the elevator wall and pockets the remnant to smoke later. She steps out into the hallway.)
MARGE: I’ll just send you on down to the lobby for Tommy to find, that’ll take care of that. You understand, right? I can’t get caught up in an investigation.
(MARGE leans in from outside, pulls the lever, and slams the door closed. She’s much better at this than anyone else has been so far.)
MARGE: See you in the next life, buddy.
(We go with Frank. The elevator goes past the second floor, where we hear a faint argument; the first floor, where someone is opening and closing several doors in quick succession looking for the correct room; the mezzanine, where there is tinkling music; and comes to rest at the lobby. There is a door to the street not far away, and the desk where TOMMY works. A uniformed cop is standing at the desk.)
TOMMY: Officer, I’m sorry, it’s just we’ve never had any trouble, and our papers are in order.
COP: Between you and me – and I’m sure there’s nothing to it –
TOMMY: Oh? Nothing to what?
COP: We’ve been hearing reports of an… unnatural nature.
COP: You know. Women dressing as men, getting up to all kinds of trouble – between us, the Chief’s daughter’s no better than she should be, and he’s got a bee in his bonnet about it.
TOMMY: And… that means an extra inspection?
COP: Like I said, we got reports. I hope there’s nothing to it – this has always seemed like a fine upstanding establishment – I’m sure you don’t have any of those people here.
(We hear the elevator arrive.)
TOMMY: I certainly wouldn’t know, sir. Here comes the elevator now. Where would you like to go first?
(The officer walks over to the elevator, starts to open the cage door, then stops and stares.)
COP: Are you… aware…
TOMMY: Yes? Of what?
COP: That there’s a dead man in your elevator?
COP: I’ve seen a thing or two in my time. I’m not wet behind the ears. But this – THIS is a FIRST.
TOMMY: Wait – do you mean –
COP: This poor man, just doing his job, and he probably caught wind of some perversion –
TOMMY: Frank is dead? Frank?
COP: – and they killed him. Did you see who it was? Was it you?
TOMMY: I didn’t – I wouldn’t –
COP: I don’t believe for a moment you’re shocked. I’ve heard about places like this, where decent people’s lives are worth less than nothing.
TOMMY: …are you real? Who talks like this? Oh, god, Frank… (TOMMY starts crying.)
COP: Save the crocodile tears.
(TOMMY sniffles and chokes back tears, then clears his throat and sounds resolute.)
TOMMY: Fine. Fine. What do you need?
COP: I’ll need to examine this man now.
TOMMY: All – all right – just a moment, let me lock the door –
(TOMMY goes and turns the deadbolt so no one can come in and interrupt. As they come back, the cop opens the cage door.)
TOMMY: Oh, Frank. I never told you – I’m so sorry I never said –
COP: Shut it. You aren’t fooling me.
TOMMY: I just –
COP: I can’t see how you killed him.
(We hear TOMMY pick up a letter opener off the desk.)
TOMMY: What, do you think I stabbed him with this letter opener? What is this, Agatha Christie?
TOMMY: Oh, you don’t even read?
(TOMMY gets in the elevator too)
COP: What are you doing?
(TOMMY slams the cage door shut and yanks the lever)
TOMMY: You wanted to see downstairs, right?
COP: Wait – not –
(We hear the elevator sinking toward the lower level. There is still jazz music but no more clinking of glasses. Before the elevator fully arrives we hear Tommy slamming the Cop against the side of the elevator with one hand, raising the letter opener with the other.)
COP: You can’t –
TOMMY: I damn well can.
(TOMMY stabs the cop in the throat. We hear him gurgle out his last breath and collapse on top of Frank.)
TOMMY: I’m so sorry, Frank.
(The elevator arrives. The ballroom doors open and Eleanor, Bill, and Maryanne come out. They walk up to the elevator, where TOMMY is breathing heavily and covered in blood.)
ELEANOR: Wait – there are two of them now?
BILL: At least there’s someone to open the door.
ELEANOR: Do you suppose we’ll fit?